Saturday, October 4, 2008

The Juice is no longer loose

O.J. could spend the rest of his life behind bars. I'll defer to the wisdom of Avery for a moment:

Once he got arrested again, he had to know he was going up. It doesn’t matter what they got him for — it could’ve been for stealing a candy bar, he was going up. It’s done now. I ain’t follow no parts of the trial, so I can’t claim any real knowledge, but the charges seem to be a little extra. But whatever. Dude had to know many, many people were out to get him, yet he just kept running around, staying visible. Sometimes you just gotta know when to lay low.

From the day - actually, 13 years ago to the day - Simpson was acquitted in the highly publicized murders of his ex-wife and her friend, it was only a matter of time before he was at the mercy of the courts again. Without the talents of Johnnie Cochran or a jury of his peers, Simpson was not going to be able to wriggle himself out of trouble this time.

It's sad, on a number of levels. I really don't like to see a 61-year-old man sent to prison for what could be, at a minimum, a 15-year sentence, for a crime in which no one was hurt. But there always seemed to be a sense that, no matter the evidence, O.J. was being retried on those old murder charges. It again confirmed to me that black people really don't want to their fates to be in the hands of 12 people - none of them black (it'll be interesting to see if people criticize the judgment of this trial in the way they did the much-browner California panel in 1995).

My mother once told me a story about a time she had to serve on a jury, a battery case against a 17-year-old kid who got into a fight in his high school cafeteria. The other 11 jury members were eager to go home and send the kid to jail for a few months; not my mother. She heard out the evidence, considered that he had no prior record and held firm against those who wanted to convict him. My mother, not normally an emotional sort, spoke with deep empathy for a teen she'd almost certainly never crossed paths with before: "I just imagined that that could have been you and I'd want someone in there willing to stand up for you." It goes without saying that the teen was black.

Long story short, my mom revealed her concerns to the judge and a mistrial was declared. The boy was free, if only for the moment. I was proud of my mother and worried for the rest of us unable to have her sitting in the gallery.

Don't get it twisted: O.J. is no saint. This could easily be a case of karma coming back to kick him in the ass. But when I look at Simpson, I'm reminded that it's important to live a life of prudence, humility and modesty. And to avoid the courtroom at all costs.

The late, great writer Ralph Wiley, who had absolutely no love lost for O.J., put it this way:

Ordinarily, guilt of a 'black' (unprivileged) man is assumed. That is as much Privileged Man's Unwritten Law as the ability to snuff one's wife. ... The polls were the first I ever heard of that asked, Do you think a 'black' man is guilty? Never heard of much call for such a poll before. ... But there is nothing in the precedent of the American legal system that would make a 'black' person answer a poll about the guilt of a presumed 'black' man any other way. Where is the big surprise? All of those of questionable guilt, guilt by heredity more than of any crime, and now here you come taking polls? ... Well, hell no then, he's not guilty, said the unprivileged who were polled, meaning they were not guilty - that their uncles, brothers, husbands and fathers who had been victimized by the many historic peers of Mark Fuhrman were not guilty.

What's that line about people "who don't know history ... yada yada yada"? Wiley saw it all coming, more than a decade ago: "If Juice did this sin, there's no getting away from it. ... O.J. Simpson is going straight to Hell."

But only after he finally goes to jail.

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